Chili-rubbed Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Grilled Mango Salsa
I run a pretty predicable cyclical pattern with my diet each year. Once Thanksgiving hits, I give up resistance to any attempt to improve my health and indulge in all the meat and fat that makes the holidays and winter a comforting, survivable time. When spring hits, I start to introduce some semblance of balance, however misguided it may be, into my meal selection and take up biking and walking more. This year I've broken that trend and have yet to crawl out from the gluttony I wallowed in during the colder months. I have a fear that letting myself do this is so easy that I may never bring myself out of it and I'll inevitably suffer the consequences of that decision in the long run. I need a swift kick in the ass to get myself into full spring/summer mode and I thought revisiting some of the lighter sides of grilling I've done would serve as good inspiration. So with that, I bring you what I consider healthier grilling by way of these chili-rubbed mahi mahi tacos with a grilled mango salsa.
Longtime readers may find this an odd choice as they know that, depending on the day, I range from somewhat seafood averse to all out seafood hater. It's because of this aversion, which I'm still struggling to kick, that I almost always introduce a lot of robust flavors that I love into any seafood dish I'm cooking. For these tacos, that meant starting with a dry rub similar to what I'd put on a rack of ribs—it included chili powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar, cumin, pepper, and garlic powder.
I coated a relatively small piece of mahi mahi with this earthy spice mixture. I chose mahi mahi because of its light flavor and heartiness to stand up to grilling. This recipe can be replicated with just about any of your favorite grill-able fish though.
To further inject flavor into the finished tacos, I decided to top them with a grilled mango salsa. I started this out by grilling slices of mango, red onion, and one jalapeño.
Once those developed nice charring and caramelization from the heat of the fire, I diced them up and tossed them together along with fresh tomato, red pepper, cilantro, and lime. Even if you're not a seafood person like myself, this salsa alone is a great standalone take-away from this recipe with its fruity, fresh flavor that gets added depth from the distinct flavor of the grill.
When the salsa was done, I set it aside to let the flavors meld a bit and turned my attention to the fish. I feel like there's a great fear of grilling fish, but I personally haven't found it all that challenging. As long as I follow a couple simple steps—oiling the grill and not trying to flip it until it releases from the grate—handling fish isn't much more taxing than a burger or steak.
This piece grilled up to be a beautiful mahogany color that reminded me of barbecue, which got my mouth watering. After I let it rest for five minutes, I shredded the fish into pieces and assembled them into tacos using corn tortillas I had warmed on the grill and topped them with the mango salsa.
This certainly looked like one beautiful taco—a medley of colors and aromas made it insanely appetizing. For the first few bites, I relished in the creation. The taco was light and refreshing, yet also complex thanks to the pairing of the earthy and slightly spicy rub and bright and fruity salsa. Unfortunately, after a few bites in, my brain took over and turned on me, fooling me into thinking this was something I don't like and can't eat and I was forced to put down the taco and turn to other foods while my three guests happily chowed down and even went back for seconds. I think this was a great dish and just the type I need to introduce some healthier items back into the primarily meat and cheese diet I currently have going on...if only I could crush this embarrassing aversion that prohibits me from being the ideal eater I aspire to.
Chili-rubbed Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Grilled Mango Salsa
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Cook 25 Minutes
- Total 35 Minutes
- For the Rub
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- For the Salsa
- 1 almost ripe mango, peeled and cored
- 1 small red onion, cut 1/2-inch rounds and skewered horizontally
- 1 small jalapeño
- 2 roma tomatoes, cored and finely diced
- 1 small red pepper, cored and finely diced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lime juice from 1 lime
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1lb skinless, boneless mahi-mahi
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 corn tortillas
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- To make the rub: Mix together chili powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar, cumin, black pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl, set aside.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place mango, onions, and jalapeño on the grill. Cook mango until grill marks develop, 2-3 minutes per side. Cook onions until charred and slightly softened, 4-5 minutes per side. Cook jalapeño until lightly blistered and charred all over, 6-8 minutes total. Remove all to cutting board and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Finely dice mango and onions and transfer to a medium bowl. Stem, seed, and finely diced jalapeño and transfer to bowl with mango and onion. Add in tomatoes, red pepper, cilantro, and lime juice and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste. Set aside
- Coat fish with spice rub and brush with olive oil all over. Place fish on grill and cook until bottom of fillet begins to turn opaque and a spatula can be slid under fish with little to no resistance, about 5 minutes. Flip fish and cook until it flakes to a fork and is opaque almost all the way through, or registers between 130-135°F on an instant read thermometer inserted in middle of filet, 3 to 5 minutes more. Transfer fish to a platter, let rest for 5 minutes. Pull fish into small pieces using two forks.
- Toast tortillas on grill until warm pliable, about 30 seconds. Remove from grill and top each tortilla with fish and salsa. Serve immediately with lime wedges.
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Chris Great shots, Josh!
Josh @Chris Thanks!
Chad Thompson Chris is right, great pictures! Every time I try to take pictures of tacos in corn tortillas the tacos just open up. I end up having to prop them up in the back!
Your mango salsa looks righteous!